Model Programs/Best Practices

San Antonio School District “Stands Up” Increased Security

Location: Texas By Becky Lewis Published April 2014

In the past four years, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s campaign slogan “If You See Something, Say Something,” has become part of our national vocabulary. In San Antonio’s Edgewood Independent School District (EISD), that slogan could also be re-interpreted as if you’re concerned about any activity around a school, “Take A Stand.”

Launched at a community meeting in February 2014, “Take A Stand” is a curriculum that spans all EISD students, from kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as their parents and other community members. And a key part of that effort is a new school safety app called Edgewood Alert, available on the EISD website and also via the Apple Store and Google Play.

EISD Public Relations Officer Rolando Martinez says that students, faculty, staff and community members all can access Edgewood Alert’s pulldown menus to report concerns about bullying, drugs, personal crises, threats and more. Edgewood Alert is confidential, although not anonymous: the school district will not publicize the names of those who submit tips, but a user needs an email address to make a report. Whenever someone reaches out via the website, notifications go to the school’s counselors and to Chief Kenneth Jacobs of the EISD Police Department for followup. Due to its internal development, the school district incurred no additional expenses in putting Edgewood Alert into place.

“We had a big kickoff for the curriculum and the app that included a community meeting and a push on our website. The school’s counselors continue to promote Edgewood Alert, and it’s been heavily used already,” Martinez says. “Of course Edgewood is about education, but first and foremost is the safety of everyone who comes to our schools. This is just a continuation of the ongoing safety and security measures we’ve implemented in past two years.”

Those other improvements include:

  • Increasing the number of security cameras in the district’s 20 schools (12,000 students and 1,800 employees) from 40 to 300. These include parking lot cameras that record license plate information.
  • “Entry buzzers” at every school; visitors must present photo ID.
  • Unannounced canine searches for contraband at middle and high schools.
  • Photo IDs for students and staff and a “swipe card” entry system; student IDs also can be scanned to determine if students are in their assigned area.
  • Additional officers and patrols for the EISD Police Department. Under Chief Jacobs, the department includes two school resource officers (SROs) at each high school, one at each middle school and at the alternative learning and fine arts academies, and approximately 12 patrol officers who monitor school zones to ensure pedestrian safety, respond to alarms at EISD buildings and randomly check all district facilities. Patrol officers also investigate traffic accidents occurring on district property and assist other law enforcement agencies in the investigation of crimes on EISD property, as necessary.

“By increasing our manpower and patrol coverage, we can more effectively cover all of our schools and facilities,” Jacobs says. “We’re able to respond faster and we’ve shortened our response times because of that.

“We’re constantly looking for training, free or otherwise, that would help us with crisis intervention or with an active shooter situation,” he adds. “If that type of situation ever does arrive, we would be the ones making the initial contact and dealing with it. If a situation ever does come up, I want my officers to have the knowledge and training to handle it in a timely manner and put an end to it as quickly as we can.”